Long ‘Spider-Man’ delay, Taymor out as director
NEW YORK | In December, when the Broadway “Spider-Man” musical was generating embarrassing headlines over injuries sustained by an actor in a fall, director Julie Taymor met with her cast for a pep talk of sorts. “Rise Above,” the title of a key song in the show, was the mantra guiding her and the company, she told a reporter then.
Ultimately, though, Miss Taymor herself was unable to rise above the scathing press the show received, especially when theater critics roundly panned the show last month. On Wednesday, producers announced she was no longer director of the $65 million production, and they delayed the opening for a sixth time — until this summer.
It was a stunning and painful development for the heralded director of “The Lion King,” a megahit that is No. 3 at the box office more than a decade after it opened. Miss Taymor, known for her bold and creative artistic vision, is thought to have been pushed aside because she wouldn’t accept the need for wholesale changes to “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” which she co-wrote, and outside help.
Longtime Taymor friends and associates were saddened and bewildered by the turn of events.
“It has to be like someone taking her child from her,” said Jeffrey Horowitz, a longtime friend and colleague, before the official announcement. “Her projects were like her children. She puts absolutely everything into them. And so for someone to say, ‘We’re gonna fix it,’ that must be terrible for her.”
Spider-Man is suspended in the air in a scene from the musical ... more >
Miss Taymor had been especially hurt by the negative tone of news coverage and online chatter.
“It’s hard,” she told the Associated Press in December. “I try not to look.”
Mr. Horowitz, artistic director at the Theater for a New Audience, said Miss Taymor was distressed by some of the labels attached to her, with people saying that she was interested in spectacle over substance or that she was too much of a perfectionist.
“You don’t hire people like Julie Taymor unless you want people who push boundaries,” he said. “This show is a piece of art, and it has been described as a spectacle gone out of control. That is dangerous for her and for other artists who take risks.”
Though producers said Miss Taymor, 58, would remain part of the creative team, she was being replaced as director by Philip William McKinley. Also on the team was Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, to help with the writing, musical consultant Paul Bogaev and sound designer Peter Hylenski.
With the delay, the production has taken itself out of the running for Tony Award consideration this year, but it will be eligible for the 2012 season.
At the Foxwoods Theatre on Wednesday, actors said they did not want to speak to the media. One fan told Matthew James Thomas, who played Peter Parker/Spider-Man at the evening show, that he hoped “all the bad press would go away.”
“Tell us about it,” replied Mr. Thomas. “We’ve been dealing with it for a long time.”
U2’s Bono and The Edge, who wrote the music and lyrics, were at the theater earlier to speak with the cast. They will be adding two new songs, producers said.
The show’s press representative, Rick Miramontez, said no performances will be canceled during the overhaul.